Dec 05 2022

Workforce Training Can Maximize ROI on Cybersecurity Tools

To get the most out of expensive, evolving security solutions, your IT staff needs to know how to use them.

Colleges and universities are spending millions of dollars every year to keep their networks safe from cyberattacks — no small task in the face of persistent ransomware from hackers who remain drawn to higher education as a target.

And the financial commitment universities make is just part of the challenge. Attackers and the developers of security tools are playing an endless game of cat and mouse, as tools are updated to shore up vulnerabilities while attackers continually probe for new ways in.

Couple that with higher education IT’s staffing challenges, budgetary concerns and the load of other responsibilities heaped on university IT teams, and it’s easy to see how departments may lose sight of the little things that can keep them best protected — things like making sure the people operating those state-of-the-art security tools know how to get the most out of them.

2022 NCSAM ToC image

Workforce training and development might be easy to overlook, but without IT staff members who understand the security tools at their fingertips, inside and out, no amount of investment in cyberdefenses can keep campus networks completely safe.

Focal Point Data Risk, a CDW company, understands that challenge. They offer a comprehensive suite of solutions and services for cybersecurity teams, including cyberskills development through their Focal Point Academy.

Here’s a look at some of what Focal Point can offer.

Make Security Experts Out of Your Existing Staff

For as much as colleges and universities spend on cybersecurity tools, few are fortunate enough to have highly trained security experts on staff. And if they do, those employees can be hard to keep because they possess a skill set that is highly sought after by deep-pocketed private companies.

So higher education IT departments need to build their own expert staff.

To help them do that, Focal Point offers hundreds of different courses to boost staff members’ knowledge in areas like offensive and defensive cybersecurity, cloud implementation and security, application development and security, programming, secure coding, DevSecOps, data science and analytics.

The courses run anywhere from one to five days and operate at a range of difficulty levels, with prerequisites required for some and badges offered once certain classes or pathways are completed. They are online, instructor-led courses that enrollees complete at their own pace.

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If you’re not sure which courses are right for your staff, Focal Point offers a multistep process that includes a screening assessment, in which employees are quizzed in a handful of different areas. Based on those results, Focal Point can recommend which courses are right for your team and even break down those course recommendations by individual.

Focal Point’s highly respected courses are also relatively inexpensive; the most costly is about $5,000 per person, an outlay that is nowhere near the six figures-plus per year it would cost to add security experts to an IT department’s staff.

Stay on Top of New Tools with Product-Specific Training

In addition to general skills courses, Focal Point also offers in-depth training on specific security technologies from companies such as Amazon Web ServicesCiscoPalo Alto Networks and others, in addition to courses offering certifications from CompTIA, the EC-Council and (ISC)2.

These tool-specific courses are especially valuable when a university first purchases a new piece of technology or when that tech undergoes a major upgrade. For example, when a university recently upgraded its Palo Alto firewalls to the latest PAN-OS 10.x solution, an IT team that had only worked with the tools’ earlier operating system was having trouble making use of the firewalls’ shiny new updates. But with the right Focal Point course, the team became experts on the tools’ new features in a matter of hours.

When a college or university budgets the funds for a new security tool or upgrades an existing one, it can be a costly mistake — not to mention a waste of resources — if your staff lets that new tool languish because no one knows how to take advantage of the important features it offers.

And the tools IT security teams are using should be constantly evolving and patched, if universities want to stay on top of the latest threats. Cybersecurity is changing every day and if you aren’t changing your defensive posture, you’re raising a huge red flag that tells hackers to “come breach me.”

To make sure you’re not a target — and to find out what Focal Point training might be best for your staff — contact a CDW higher education expert, and we’ll get you started down the path to make sure your team and your security tools are working to the best of their abilities.

Click here to read more security stories from Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

This article is part of EdTech: Focus on Higher Education’s UniversITy blog series.

Nuria Seguí/Stocksy

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